When the idea of high oil prices comes to mind, one quickly recalls the hot months of 2008, when crude prices of nearly $150 a barrel had summer drivers rethinking the cost vs. benefit equation of road trips. But one silver lining of the global financial crisis and economic slowdown was that it brought prices back down below $50 a barrel in November of that same year. And here we are again: Last month, the five-year rolling average price of Brent crude topped $100 a barrel for the first time ever. Worse yet, Credit Suisse energy commodity analyst Jan Stuart doesn’t think another reprieve is in the cards. He calls the current price level “a new normal.”
How did we get back here so quickly and why are prices likely to stay put?
On the demand side, it’s quite simple. Both the global economy as well as global population continue to grow, and along with them demand for fossil fuels. Global oil demand has fallen only two times in the past two decades: the height of the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Global consumption should increase by 1.4 million barrels a day, or 1.5 percent, to a record 92.7 billion a day in 2014, according to the International Energy Agency, which raised its forecast in March as the economic recovery gained momentum.
By Jens Erik Gould, Photo by AP (via thefinancialist.com)